3 Ways Every Startup Can Benefit From Growing With Fractional Talent
I founded a fractional executive staffing company in 2016 to help companies grow and thrive with great flexibility. For the first five years of our existence, I took my own advice and used fractional talent as a catalyst for our own growth. We still have a number of fractional employees and probably always will. Here are three ways I believe my company benefited from this practice.
Using Fractional Employees Fueled Growth
When I first started vChief, there were many things that needed to be done, and I thought I was the only person who could do them. This meant I was constantly having to develop new skills, and I wasn’t able to devote much time to the one task no one could do for me: being the face of vChief.
Finally, I realized that my own capacity issues were holding the business back. The first person I hired was an accountant on a fractional basis. I know nothing about accounting and bookkeeping, and I didn’t have the time or inclination to learn. After the success of that addition, I kept finding roles I didn’t have time to attend to.
When I made the decision to begin hiring experts on a fractional basis, the business and I both benefited tremendously and our growth accelerated.
Within six months we had five fractional team members in marketing, website development, blogging, accounting, and talent recruitment. Each team member was an expert in their craft and able to work within their zone, instead of having to fill a weird hybrid role. I wasn’t going to hire someone who was both a bookkeeper and a blogger and recruiter. I’m sure that person doesn’t even exist, and I certainly didn’t want to train someone to be that.
Using fractional talent kept our overhead low and our profits high, allowing us to invest more into business development efforts like advertising and memberships in networking groups.
Once I was able to focus on promoting our company, we took off. We grew from 10 to 200 clients in just five years, and our revenue has grown more than 50 percent every year for the last three years.
Growing With Fractional Staff Preserved Our Culture
We were in business for five years before we hired our first full-time employee. In hindsight, we likely could’ve grown faster if we’d transitioned to some full-time staff sooner as the organization became larger and more complex. But I don’t regret the decision to resist that pressure.
I took my time with these hires and made sure they were the right fit. I believe this conservative approach to growing our full-time employee count provided a huge benefit: we preserved our culture. With each hire, I was able to take the time to find people who share my core values and priorities. That’s hard to do when you’re rushing to hire people.
Fractional Talent Let Us Grow With Minimal Risk
Working with fractional talent significantly lowers the risks associated with bringing on a new team member. The flexible terms of our relationships with fractional talent — most had a simple 30-day cancellation notice requirement, similar to what we offer at vChief — gave me peace of mind about our expenses, knowing we could quickly pivot should we hit a downturn.
This allowed us to avoid the risk of carrying too much overhead and not having the revenue to support it. In addition to helping me sleep at night, this also allowed us to build up a cash reserve. When we did start hiring full-time, that extra cash enabled us to offer health benefits at a much earlier point than the average start-up.
Finally, we were fortunate enough that when we were ready to hire full-time, many of our fractional team members were interested in taking on a full-time role. Having already worked with these folks for years, we knew the quality of their work and knew how they would contribute to our team culture. There was very little risk in hiring them full-time.
These are just a few of the reasons why I believe using fractional talent, especially in the start-up phase, is the smartest way to grow.